Baseball History Up For Bid

Former Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner is greeted by Kevin Youkilis and Sox Chairman and co-owner Tom Werner before throwing out the first pitch at Fenway Park's opening day in April. (AP)
Former Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner is greeted by current team member Kevin Youkilis before throwing out the first pitch at Fenway Park's opening day in April. (AP)

I do not want the ball that eluded Bill Buckner 25 years ago, during the 1986 World Series.

But if I did want it, and if I had a lot of money, I could bid for it.

I learned on Tuesday that the ball will be available. Seth Swirsky, who bought the ball 11 years ago from Charlie Sheen for $64,000, has announced that he will put it up for auction on October 15th. He thinks an opening bid of $1 million would be reasonable. This probably irks Charlie Sheen no little and quite some.

Mr. Swirsky has a large collection of baseball stuff associated with, among others, Eddie Gaedel, the 3-foot 7-inch pinch hitter whom Bill Veeck sent to the plate in order to tweak the nose of the baseball establishment just over 50 years ago. On June 18th, 1961, having long outlived his notoriety as the only man ever banned from baseball for being too short, Eddie Gaedel got drunk in a bowling alley. It wasn't the first time. The next morning he was found dead in his bed. Apparently he'd been beaten. He was 36.

Bill Buckner has fared much better, but then he was a lot better ballplayer than Eddie Gaedel. He had 2,715 hits. Eddie Gaedel didn't have any.

Regarding the Buckner baseball, Mr. Swirsky said, "It's time to pass it along, to let someone else enjoy it."

If his motive is to increase enjoyment, it's fair to ask why Seth Swirsky doesn’t give the ball to the Baseball Hall of Fame. There it would be placed in a case, and people inclined to enjoy baseballs associated with unfortunate outcomes could press their noses against the glass and regard the scuffed ball as if it were the shin bone of a martyred saint.

On the other hand, if Seth Swirsky gave the ball to the Hall of Fame, it would raise no money, which wouldn't be so good, since Mr. Swirsky plans to donate part of what the ball brings to the Baseball Assistance Team, a group that helps retired ballplayers suffering financial hardships. Good on him for that, though my understanding is that Bill Buckner, who managed an independent minor league team in Brockton, Massachusetts last season, doesn't need help, and it's way too late for Eddie Gaedel.

This program aired on October 5, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

Bill Littlefield Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.



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